They had some interesting ideas. The water flooding issue is a big deal that has to be addressed, as they explained.

There is so much asphalt there, with the pond as a low point, that it seems like a giant sink with the water left on sometimes. They suggested moving the fair elsewhere, then removing most of the asphalt and making green space. That would have a big impact on the flooding. Although maybe not completely address it. Apparently there is a lot of hollow areas underground that route water to the lowest point in area, in this case the pond.

The movement of amphitheater to closer to interstate was interesting, but I was not clear on how the interstate noise would be addressed with regards to acoustics for shows.

Chilhowee Park had a noticeable revenue bump in 2018, that was attributed to the "Dragon Lights Festival". Which was a good event. I visited it a couple times with folks.


Maybe that would be a good thing to do each year at the Midway. Have a big Christmas display for a couple months based on another country like the Dragon Lights Festival. There are 195 countries in the world. Use one different country each year.

City leaders discuss future of Chilhowee Park by unveiling proposed additions

bizgrrl's picture

$100,000,000 That's a lot of


That's a lot of money.

Mike Daugherty's picture

That is a bunch of money,

That is a bunch of money, close to the amount spent on the Knoxville Convention Center.

I attended the meeting and thought their were many good ideas. I do like the plan for more green space and the way the park would be accessible by the surrounding community. I think it is important to consider the effects on the local residents. I asked if the funding for the project was approved, what would the timetable be for completing the entire project. They did not give a concrete answer but said maybe 5 years. Most of the comments I heard as I was leaving were to the effect that it would never happen.

I am not a civil engineer or financial genius and I am not knowledgeable about many considerations that would go into the long term planning. I do hope the new mayor and members of City Council will do their best to utilize our local resources and make things happen that will have long term benefits for Knoxville area residents. Maybe the incremental approach would be best

bizgrrl's picture

I do like the plan for more

I do like the plan for more green space and the way the park would be accessible by the surrounding community. I think it is important to consider the effects on the local residents.

You could ask the residents near Caswell Park how they feel about green space being taken away.

bizgrrl's picture

In the Caswell Park thread,

In the Caswell Park thread, Park Citizen mentioned:

"the hired consultant recommending in their master plan presented yesterday the redevelopment of huge portions of Chilhowee Park as "mixed use" and "residential"

Didn't see that in the linked article.

R. Neal's picture



R. Neal's picture

Don't have the wherewithal

Don't have the wherewithal right now to type in my complete thoughts on the study and its proposals.

Just wanted to say that whatever happens I hope they protect Pizza Palace and that Pizza Palace lives long and prospers through multiple succeeding generations.

barker's picture

Big Takeaway

For me, the big takeaway is the recommendation to move the Tennessee Valley Fair to another location, which is why I led my story in Compass with that proposal. The fair has been there for 100 years. I could be wrong, but I would guess that the fate of the fair, more than the mixed-use element, would be the battleground. Of course, everyone needs to remember that these are just recommendations from consultants -- the next mayor and City Council will be the ones making any decisions about the future of Chilhowee Park, and they can accept or reject anything the consultants have proposed.

Treehouse's picture


If they got rid of the fair, they could take down the ugly fencing that separates the site from the neighborhood.

R. Neal's picture

City press release with more

City press release with more info...

Oct. 18, 2019

A team of consultants has completed its nine-month analysis of Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center’s current condition and potential long-term uses.

Remedying flooding issues needs to be one of the first orders of business, the group concluded. Future Mayors and City Councils minimally will need to continue to invest in maintenance and near-future upgrades totaling $3.5 million, some of which is currently budgeted.

After that, Chilhowee Park promisingly stands at a crossroads. Major City investments over time could transform the 81-acre park into a more robust space that would be frequently used year-round by families in the surrounding neighborhoods as well as visitors coming for festivals, trade shows and concerts, the consultants concluded.

Incrementally, the City could add a new state-of-the-art amphitheater able to accommodate between 7,500 and 10,000 guests (a venue size now missing in the Knoxville market), a new 91,800-square-foot multi-use facility, and a parking deck, according to the consultants’ report, shared at a public meeting Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Jacob Building.

The consulting team headed by Convention Sports and Leisure International (CSL) also presented a long-range vision for the park that vastly increases green space and triples the size of Lake Ottosee, restoring it to a natural environment similar to how the park looked at the time of the 1910 and 1911 Appalachian Expositions. The vision includes options for families to boat, kayak or canoe on what could be a 9-acre lake.

Additionally, the consultants presented options for adding restaurants, retail and housing in select parts of the park and along Magnolia Avenue. What’s now the Midway, for example, could be remade into mixed-use development and houses. The public investments would be a catalyst for private economic development, according to the consultants.

“This study confirmed that parts of Chilhowee Park are showing their age and often can’t competitively attract certain events when compared with more modern facilities,” said Chip Barry, Deputy Chief of Operations. “That said, this analysis also confirmed much of what we already knew – that Knoxville residents greatly value the park, want to see it made greener, and want more year-round activity.”

To see Wednesday night’s PowerPoint presentation or read the complete 97-page strategic plan, visit (link...).

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There is no funding committed to any aspects of the recommended plan, other than short-term maintenance. While the total cost to do everything outlined in the plan is estimated at $81.5 million or more, Barry noted that the plan is an “aspirational” blueprint; components could be added incrementally, over many years.

The consulting team was led by nationally renowned Convention Sports and Leisure International (CSL). The team included local firms Design Innovation Architects and IBI Placemaking (formerly CRJA Landscape Architects) as well as Sizemore Group, Atlanta-based strategic planners.

To reach its conclusions, the team in February met with tenants and stakeholders and held a community meeting. The consultants thoroughly compared Chilhowee Park to peer local and regional facilities, as well as to 23 comparable parks and amphitheaters across the country. Historic uses of the Chilhowee buildings and grounds were studied. More than 2,000 people then completed online surveys in June.

The consultants praised ASM Global, formerly SMG, for making significant improvements in managing the park since taking over operations in November 2015.

Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center serves as home to the Tennessee Valley Fair each fall and to The Muse and Golden Gloves Charities year-round. Adjacent to Chilhowee Park is the 53-acre Zoo Knoxville, the city’s top attraction.

Because the strategic plan calls for reconfiguring the park grounds, it suggests the City should assist the fair in relocating to larger and improved space. Golden Gloves could potentially relocate to the proposed new multi-use facility, while the Muse might be a good fit for the current Jacob Building, according to the strategic plan.

The consultants recommend solving the flooding issue as a prerequisite to any other major investment.

“Importantly, detailed investigation of the stormwater/flooding problems impacting the site and watershed is needed,” the plan states. “Implementation of a comprehensive solution to appropriately mitigate the core issues causing flooding at Chilhowee Park will be necessary before investment is made on a major improvement project.”

# # #

jbr's picture

Some of the talk at the

Some of the talk at the presentation indicated the barns at the fairgrounds were in disrepair and inadequate.

Maybe the fair be moved to a combination of the Worlds Fair site and UT Ag campus facilities on both sides of the river. Maybe integrate the greenway and Tyson park.

Might generate a significant increase in attendance and stimulate new ideas for the fair.

Rachel's picture

The consultants recommend

The consultants recommend solving the flooding issue as a prerequisite to any other major investment.

It can't be solved. Not completely. Unless you turn the areas that are prone to flooding into passive green space.

fischbobber's picture


Is there some way to capture this floodwater and use it in a small lake or ponds that could be stocked with fish and used by the local citizenry? Or would the water be too nasty?

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